ALDOT Rules Out Northern Route for Proposed Bridge

Wed August 31, 2005 - Southeast Edition

MOBILE, AL (AP) State highway officials have ruled out a northern route for a proposed new bridge to relieve traffic congestion in the Interstate 10 tunnel at Mobile.

The state Department of Transportation instead will study three routes that would cross the Mobile River near downtown.

DOT officials concluded that a northern route incorporating the Cochrane-Africatown USA Bridge would not solve congestion in the tunnel.

DOT division engineer Ronnie Poiroux said the three finalists mean that the department now faces the hard task of threading the new bridge through historic properties in downtown and the shipyards.

Mayor Mike Dow in a letter to DOT Director Joe McInnes said he wished the state had kept the northern route under consideration and that he had “firm and real concerns” as the selection process moves forward.

Dow asked McInnes to ensure that the bridge doesn’t harm the new cruise terminal, the state docks or downtown development, and that it doesn’t restrict shipyard work on U.S. Navy vessels.

“This bridge cannot be built directly above the cruise port without shutting that industry down; yet, that route remains on the active choice list. If the north option comes off the list, so should this option,” the mayor wrote. “To have a bridge hanging above our cruise port and $250 million in waterfront assets is a lack of concern and poor planning.”

Poiroux said Dow’s concerns will be addressed in the detailed Environmental Impact Statement that will be conducted on the three remaining routes.

A construction timetable has not been made.